‘Open Mind’ host to discuss the future of civility

The host from The Open Mind show on PBS will be at Marshall University to discuss with students and faculty the problems of civil discourse on social media Thursday.

Alexander Heffner is coming in from New York to address ways to use civil discourse on social media and the problems that are attached to it. The discussion will begin at 6 p.m. in room BE5 of the Memorial Student Center.

This particular session is the last of a series where participants are taught a civil useful exchange of ideas among people, especially during this election season.

English professor David Hatfield said people can have useful dialogues and try to understand each others’ position without things spiralling out of control.

“After the election we have already seen a lot of issues with civil behavior,” Hatfield said. “This election season in particular has been contentious and problematic, but I think it just served to heighten what’s been a condition for a long time.”

Hatfield said social media, instead of a series of dialogues, is a monologue, and that makes it easy for people to have disagreements and arguments without having to listen to each other.

“We have sort of fallen into the habit of listening to reply, instead of listening to understand,” Hatfield said.

Part of Marshall’s mission is to educate students to be good thinkers, good listeners and understand the power of diversity.

“Diversity is a strength that you benefit from having different points and perspectives,” Hatfield said. “As a university, we should be producing people who are ready to go out to be civic leaders.”

Students and faculty can watch the discussion live online at www.marshall.edu/it/livestream.

Kessyl Lim can be contacted at [email protected].